AT 87, T. Hanumanth Rao is an untiring civil engineer who keeps himself abreast of the latest developments in his area of expertise—irrigation and water management. He retired as Engineer-in-Chief of the Irrigation Department of undivided Andhra Pradesh. In the past 15 years he has been associated with the United Nations as an adviser on projects in over 20 countries.
Hanumanth Rao’s has been the most persuasive and articulate voice against the Telangana government’s redesign of one of the State’s main irrigation projects, the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme. The project proposes to lift about 160 thousand million cubic feet (tmc ft) of water at the confluence of the Godavari and the Pranahita rivers on the border of Telangana and Maharashtra and supply it down south going over much higher ground through central Telangana, and finally almost reaching the capital, Hyderabad.
An intense debate on the efficacy of 18 reservoirs as part of this system and the government’s attempt to circumvent legislation that should kick in when land is acquired for public purposes have led to severe criticism of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s administration. The land to be acquired runs into tens of thousands of acres, most of it in the Chief Minister’s home district of Medak, and some within his own Assembly constituency, Gajwel. Hanumanth Rao argues that submergence can be entirely avoided if the government is receptive to alternative engineering ideas for irrigation, which he says are already in practice elsewhere, not only in India but in several other parts of the world.